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The Test Drive


Publication Year: 2005

Beginning with Nietzsche's discovery of the "experimental disposition," Ronell explores testing's ascension to truth in modern practice. To know something, and to know that it is true, has never been a simple matter of recognition and assent. Instead, increasing numbers of tests of ever increasing complexity have been established to determine and constitute what is true, probable, or verifiable. _x000B__x000B_Tests are pervasive, and inflect the master-narratives of our historical existence. The Bible dramatically presents tests of Abraham and Job, great works of literature track the tested subject, the vast apparatus of modern science and technology is built upon extraordinarily exacting tests, and the need for truth in times of trial and crisis links state-run testing apparatuses to events of arrest, torture, and death. On the evening of 9-11 the President of the United States said, "We are being being tested."_x000B__x000B_What propels this drive to test? What can satisfy it? What is the subterranean history of its effects? _x000B__x000B_In The Test Drive, internationally acclaimed scholar Avital Ronell explores vast areas of testing in the works of Husserl, Popper, Freud, Lyotard, Derrida, and others, including Zen philosophies. She then proceeds through the major transformations in twentieth-century philosophy and science that have inclined the world toward more and more tests. _x000B__x000B_Higher education is perpetually involved in tests, tests about tests, and in the creation, assessment, refinement, and justification of tests, so much so that some critics argue that education has become obsessed by tests. _x000B__x000B_Ronell shows that the obsession to test is likely more deeply rooted and more broadly exercised. The need to define, the need to know, the need to be sure, and the need to establish rank, are needs that press with the urgency of hunger.

Published by: University of Illinois Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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pp. 4-7


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pp. vii-viii

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Part 1. Proving Grounds

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pp. 3-60

Whether you mean to prove that you can do it, or we are driven by what Maurice Blanchot calls “the trial of experience,” and he submits himself endlessly to Nietzsche’s loyalty tests, or she is a runaway replicant whose human factor is being scrutinized, or the sadistic coach has us revving up for an athletic contest; ...

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Part 2. Trial Runs

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pp. 61-130

In the interview accorded to Salomon Malka, Levinas announces, “I prefer the word épreuve to expérience because in the word expérience a knowing of which the self is master is always said. In the word épreuve there is at once the idea of life and of a critical ‘verification’ which overflows the self of which it is only the ‘scene.’”1 ...

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Part 3. On Passing the Test

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pp. 131-150

In a book that was supposed to wrap it all up for him following the extravagance he had permitted himself with Zarathustra, Nietzsche speaks of physics as just another interpretation of the world: “It is perhaps just dawning on five or six minds,” he calculates, “that physics, too, is only an interpretation and exegesis of the world ...

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Part 4. The Test Drive: On Nietzsche’s Gay Science

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pp. 151-246

We do not always know how to calculate the importance of a work. In some cases, there is nothing even to guarantee that the work will arrive. Some works seem to set an ETA – there is a sense that it will take them years to make their arrangements, overcome the obstacles of an unprotected journey, get past the false reception desks blocking their paths. ...

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Part 5. Trial Balloon: Husserl to Front Weatherman #414

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pp. 247-276

Philosophy as a rigorous science – they’re all saying that the dream is over, “der Traum ist ausgeträumt.” I’m not ready to give it up, no matter what Merleau-Ponty thinks. He says that in my Crisis book I have thrown in the towel. And then when my friends created a fuss, he said that it was unconscious. Ahem. ...

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Part 6. Testing Your Love, or: Breaking Up

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pp. 277-326

Supposing I were in love, or, let us say, I am deeply transferentially engaged. Supposing the transference went sour. Well, not sour; I am still transferred onto this other, unavoidably. But I feel betrayed. At some level I don’t care about the schoolboyish ideologies of betrayal: my middle name is betrayal. ...


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pp. 327-360


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pp. 361-372

E-ISBN-13: 9780252092305
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252075353

Page Count: 384
Publication Year: 2005